Many Benton County voters are stepping outside party lines to cast their votes in several local races between Republican candidates. Voters hitting the polls Tuesday have a choice to make before they can cast their first vote. "When you come to the primary election you have to select the type of ballot that you wish, whether that is a Republican, Democrat or non-partisan ballot," says County Clerk Tena O'Brien. "The republican ballot has most of the contested races on it, our Sheriff, our Assessor, the County Judge." While the Republican candidate for County Judge will face an independent candidate in November, several positions, including the Sheriff will be uncontested. "There won't be a race between a Republican or a Democrat," says John Brown, chairman of the Benton County Election Commission. "They basically get elected." O'Brien says the situation has many voters choosing the Republican ballot, no matter where their loyalty normally lies. "Folks want to have a say as to who will be selected," she says. Including A.J. Anglin, who asked for a Republican ballot while voting early. "I'm a Democrat, but this is an important race," he says. Lou Rhuda is a registered Republican, and says he doesn't mind his political rivals weighing in on his party's candidates. "If you're going to represent the county, then everybody should have a chance to vote for you," Rhuda says. Others, including Ruth Phares thinks everyone should be able to vote in the Sheriff's race, no matter which ballot they pick. "I'm not going to vote Republican," Phares says. "I used to be in that party and I left for good reason." Chairman Brown says the commission has received several complaints. "There are a few that don't agree with the process," he says. "Sorry, that's the way it's got to be by state law." Sample ballots can be viewed online, and polling locations will be open from 7:30 am to 7:30 pm Tuesday night.
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